Daily Post comment: Protect us from the dangerous.
In March 2003 mental patient Paul Khan, 35, travelled from Cardiff to Ffrith beach near Prestatyn, where he killed 72-year-old Brian Dodd in an apparently motiveless attack.
It was an appalling assault, containing 37 different stab wounds that left the retired accountant dead and his wife a widow.
Khan had been sentenced to an indefinite hospital order in 1996 after a knife attack on a man in Cardiff. But four years later a mental health tribunal ruled he could be treated in the community.
It was a far-reaching decision that was still reverberating yesterday.
Yesterday's report will be considered in the Assembly and already one can hear the clash and bang of stable doors.
Why is it that only the most distressing of occurrences can cause suitable action to be taken?
It is only three years ago that a health authority was deemed to have failed in its treatment of a highly dangerous psychiatric patient.
In the most high-profile incident of its type, mental patient Michael Abram was allowed to roam tormented and unchallenged before he launched a near-fatal attack on former Beatle George Harrison.
Abram, believing himself to be possessed by Harrison, broke into his victim's Oxfordshire home and stabbed both Harrison and his wife. Harrison was also savagely beaten with a table lamp.
The inquiry uncovered the familiar litany of poor communication, poor diagnosis, poor treatment and poor follow-up care.
St Helens and Knowsley Health Authority issued an apology to the Harrison family and revisited its procedures and structure.
Yet here we are again, and Cardiff Local Health Board are swiftly promising a review of all care-in-the-community mental health patients.
The Welsh Assembly will digest, debate and give leadership on the report.
When they have done so, surely they will be assuring us that all local health trusts will be ordered to review their provisions in this highly sensitive yet critical area?
Good leadership is about heading off catastrophes, rather than cleaning up the mess afterwards.
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Dec 2, 2004|
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